The SMART goals method refers to setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

When you start thinking of the things you want to achieve and accomplish, it can be easy to think of a general goal and then just sort of hope it comes true one day. In reality, your goals aren’t going to “work” unless you do; that’s why the SMART method is so effective.

By taking each of the five elements of the smart goals acronym, you not only establish a clear roadmap to follow, but in being so thorough, you set yourself up to inevitably achieve the goal.

In this article, we’re going to give you a brief overview of how the SMART goals method works and walk you through how you can go about setting SMART goals, both in and out of recovery.

What do SMART goals stand for?

The SMART goals acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. A SMART goal is all of these things.

Specific: Place the goal under a microscope and define it as clearly as you can by identifying who will be involved, what exactly you’re going to accomplish, where it’s going to take place, when the “deadline” is and why this goal is important.

Measurable: Develop a quantifiable way to track your goal by giving an abstract statement a solid way to measure your progress and success. For example, rather than just thinking about how you want to drink more water, create the quantifiable goal of “I am going to drink 10 full glasses of water every day.”

Attainable: Choose goals that are big enough to excite you, but attainable in the short term. Right now you want to focus on inspiring yourself to keep working through recovery (by setting goals) and building your confidence (by achieving said goals because they’re attainable).

Relevant: Be present in each phase of recovery that you’re in — in other words, stay relevant. This is important because it will help you avoid getting stuck in the past or overwhelmed by the future by staying relevant to the now, and focusing on helping yourself in the present.

Timely: Add an element of time to your goal so you can better hold yourself accountable. For example, rather than say you’re going to start spending less time on your phone “soon,” create the time-bound goal of keeping the first 10 minutes of every morning phone-free. 

The core purpose of a SMART goal is to create a definite roadmap for you to follow on the path to your objective so that you can frequently achieve your goals, but there are other reasons why this goal-setting method is so powerful.

Why use SMART goals?

The reason so many people — in and out of recovery — choose to use SMART goals to create their best lives is simply because of how consistently effective it is.

In ensuring each of your goals is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely, the SMART method helps you to more clearly plan out your strategy for achieving the goal, better track your progress and keep you committed to the process.

Two of the most common reasons goals aren’t achieved are because of a lack of clarity (“specific”) and the lack of a deadline (“timely”); the SMART method helps you to clarify your ideas, focus and refine your efforts and give you the highest chance of achieving your goals.

For those in recovery, this goal setting method can be especially helpful at providing the structure, accountability, focus and motivation they need but may struggle to foster on their own. 

Examples of SMART goals in recovery

The great thing about SMART goals is there is no kind of goal you can, should or have to set; they are entirely dependent on you, your life and your personal aspirations.

As exciting as that is, we know it can also feel a little overwhelming — so we’re going to provide you with a few SMART goal examples to help you brainstorm what goals will help you become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself.

  • Attend one recovery-related session every week (a 12-step meeting, therapy session, support group meeting)
  • Find a new sober activity to engage in with loved ones by next weekend
  • Spend one hour a day channeling your passionate and creative side
  • Limit eating out to once a week, or once every two weeks
  • Set $10 every week for a sober anniversary gift

Goal setting is harder than most people realize, and if you’re struggling to achieve your goals, you wouldn’t be the only one. There’s no shame in reaching out when you need help.

Get started today

October Road is a behavioral health and substance use treatment center that specializes in providing trauma-informed healthcare and addiction treatment services to adults in a way that enacts long-lasting, positive change in their lives.

To take the first step towards achieving even your most ambitious goals, send us a message today or call us directly.

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